A Certain Affinity
How post-production houses are learning to love the big screenSeptember 2011 By Adrienne Maxwell
"Don't worry, we'll fix it in post." It's a joke often uttered by amateur and professional filmmakers alike. In this digital age, a remarkable amount of "fixing" can indeed be done after the production has wrapped. For most of us, the phrase "post-production" conjures thoughts of visual effects, as well as film editing, sound mixing, and now 3D rendering.
Sometimes forgotten are the basic but not simple tasks of cleaning up and color-correcting the image, the results of which we often take for granted in a professional film or TV production. We expect a clean image with no obvious dirt or other maladies. We expect the protagonist's red shirt to remain the exact same hue throughout the film or a fall day to look like a fall day, not the summer day on which the scene was actually shot. If a director chooses a blue color temperature to characterize his futuristic sci-fi epic or muted tones for a Depression-era drama, we expect that theme to remain consistent from frame to frame. We certainly notice when it doesn't.
Needless to say, these video-finishing processes require a keen eye and some high-quality video equipment. Some of Hollywood's popular post-production facilities have recently found a new ally in the quest for pristine video: the JKP Affinity screen from Da-Lite.
First introduced almost three years ago, the critically acclaimed JKP Affinity screen is the result of a partnership between Da-Lite and video guru Joe Kane—a response to what Kane felt was a limitation with existing screens in handling the higher resolutions of 1080p and beyond.
"As we move to higher and higher resolutions, the physical surface of the screen becomes more a part of what you see in the image," Kane explains. "Most screens are spray-coated to get the reflectivity characteristics that you're looking for. That coat adds irregularities. The granularity in the screen surface interferes with the resolution…and adds what appears to be noise to the picture."
Kane approached a number of manufacturers to develop a screen with a granularity so fine that it wouldn't interfere with the image quality; however, he soon discovered that this approach introduced its own issues. He decided the only way to solve the problem was to eliminate the spray coat entirely and build the reflectivity into the vinyl itself. Having worked with Da-Lite on previous projects, Kane presented them with this new challenge, and the company's chemists and engineers proved up to the task.